I Have Been Such a Jerk

Black and white cross with sunBirthdays and Twitter

Friday was my 53rd birthday…sounds really old, doesn’t it kids? 🙂

However, Lord willing, it is a birthday everyone here…if they haven’t already…will experience. The number 53is special in one way…does anyone know what that is?

It’s a prime number! 🙂

And I’ll have to wait six years until the next one. 🙂

Although the number has being prime special about it, for me 53 is just another ordinary milestone in the life of an ordinary guy. But, birthdays can cause me to reflect, and I did a bit this year.

What do I really want to accomplish? What should I focus on? And so on.

However, reflecting on the past often is painful for me, because the way my brain works I am much more likely to remember negative things than positive. Not negative things about others…but about myself. Times when I was a moral moron. All it takes is recollecting a few of these and I can’t help but think…

I have been such a jerk.

No, I’m not going to provide examples here. 🙂 [Read more…]

“Is It Okay to Be Mean to a Bad Person”

Angry manA month or so ago my little guy, Augie, asked me, “Is it okay to be mean to a bad person?”

How would you answer that? Not just “yes” or “no”…but what would be your reasoning for your response?

I cannot remember exactly what I told him (my memory is not that good), but it was no. I wouldn’t be surprised if I connected my response to the Sermon on the Mount, which, for instance, says:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45, English Standard Version).

As much as we might get satisfaction out of an evil-doer suffering, it is impossible to read Jesus’ words above and think that “it is okay to be mean to a bad person.” Jesus Himself is our perfect example. Whether “What would Jesus do?” or “What did Jesus do?” — our Lord never returned kind for kind…even when He was suffering most:

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments (Luke 23:33-34).

Jesus was the epitome of “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

No, Augie, it is not okay to be mean to a bad person.

But a kid without a mean bone in his body probably already knew that. 🙂

Now that You Have Blown It

New Year’s Resolutions

Epic fail signWe are 10 days into the new year…and here is hoping that it has started off great for everyone sitting here in front of me. I know the Lord continues to bless my family and me in 2016.

How many of you made New Year’s resolutions? [Wait for hands to raise.] Anyone willing to share one or two things they’ve resolved for 2016? [Wait for answers.]

Are you interested in what other people resolve? I was…and for my tween/teen class last week we went straight to the Internet to find out. Now, I realize that I have to be cautious with that and I pay heed to something a famous president said said that I found on the web. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as advising…

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” 🙂

However, I think Nielsen is pretty safe, and their list of top resolutions for 2015 were:1

Stay fit and healthy 37%
Lose weight 32%
Enjoy life to the fullest 28%
Spend less, save more 25%
Spend more time with family and friends 19%
Get organized 18%
Will not make any resolutions 16%
Learn something new/new hobby 14%
Travel more 14%
Read more 12%

Ignoring the sad commentary on society that not a single one of the top ten resolutions (based on Nielsen’s survey between December 29, 2014 and January 2, 2015) were spiritual…are most of them are at least okay?

If you made any resolutions in 2016…were they included in Nielsen’s list? I had a four that showed up in one form or another…lose weight, be better with money, read more, and get my technical and general ham radio licenses (which would fall under “learn something new/new hobby”).

[Read more…]

My Favorite Song in 2012

The year is not over, but it’ll take a lot to knock this song off the top of my list of favorite songs for 2012:

Thank you TobyMac, Lecrea, & Nirva Ready…and especially to God for giving them the talent and me the forgiveness…

UPDATE: Proof that it's a great song. Augie asked for space so he could sneak in and watch the lyric video over-and-over with dad:

Augie and dad listening to TobyMac and Lecrae

What should a sermon about forgiveness include?

Man praying for forgivenessAlan will be preaching about forgiveness this Sunday. What do think the sermon must include? Also, do you have any forgiveness anecdotes?

Forgiveness

I’ll be writing next week’s bulletin article on forgiveness…it was inspired by a passing thought I had during my (work) trip to Hawaii.

As a Christian it would almost seem “easy” to say, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” if someone is torturing and then killing you. I’m sure “easy” isn’t the right word…but I think you know what I mean.

However, would you be able to say the same about (and to) people who is torturing and killing your spouse?

Your children?

More to follow when I draft the article…

UPDATE: I actually preached a sermon instead of writing an article…although I didn’t end up touching on this…so, I suppose, there is still time for one…

Passing the Point of No Return

Betrayal

How many here have experienced a devastating betrayal from a friend, a spouse, or a family member?

I suspect if you have spent more than a couple decades on this earth it has happened to you…and that by me causing you to think about it you immediately recalled a taste of the same pain you felt when it originally happened.

Betrayal from someone close is traumatizing. Not only can it permanently destroy your relationship with that person; it can impact your relationships with everyone else. To quote the title of a song by Ian Hunter (that I probably most know due to a version by Great White)…

Once bitten twice shy…

[Read more…]

Why I Am a Heretic

I am no longer going to update this post. Instead please see the Beliefs page to read the most up-to-date list of what I believe.

AKA, "What I Believe"

Guy preaching with a staff and a stone tabletI had an interesting conversation with a Twitter friend, and after he agreed to an uncomfortable implication of his belief system I commended him on being willing to admit it. I then suggested that someone else who held that same belief system would not be willing to make the same admission, to which he replied:

Yes, I believe he would. I probably wouldn’t just throw that out there in the public forum of twitter. He may not be comfortable with saying

To which I replied:

Why not? If it is true it’s to God’s sovereign glory isn’t it?

My response would seem a whole ‘lot more apropos if you understood what belief system it was in response to. 🙂

Either way, although I can understand choosing a proper forum for airing one’s beliefs, I kind of was taken aback at the idea that someone who has no problem debating for his theological worldview then wouldn’t be willing to lay all his cards on the table.

So, here are all my cards. Traditional Christians will find plenty to consider me a heretic, but I’m not going to do a bait-and-switch on you. (Most of this is from a post I did a couple years back on fahrner.us. All biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version. Oh, and I reserve the right to modify this post at any time, so if you want to beat me over the head with my own words, be sure to grab a screenshot. :-)) [Read more…]

Was it a Bad Bird?

In my last sermon I mentioned how social media options like Twitter and Facebook are great places to get topics for talks and articles, but there is one thing that definitely beats both hands-down…

The utterances and actions of a 4 year-old. 🙂

A couple weeks back I had a bunch of stuff to bring into the church, thus requiring a couple trips from my Nissan Cube. During the first one I had left the driver's door open, and when I returned to my car I was pleasantly surprised to find a little bird flying around near the dashboard. It's hard to explain how cute it was—kind of imagine the birds from Bambi flying around that famous deer when he was just a newborn fawn. (At this point I'll have to admit that I am not even sure if I've watched Bambi completely, so those cartoon birds might just be a figment of my imagination.)

The adorable bird, however, wasn't as enamored with its equal surprise at seeing me, and when I went to the other side of the car to let it out it took my absence from the open door to escape. Even though the feathered friend's visit was short, this little episode is my favorite one (so far) with nature during my stay here on the grounds of the Pleasant View Church (although there is also something to be said for the turkeys some mornings and deer some nights).

Naturally, having a story about a cute small bird would immediately make me want to share it with an equally cute small boy, and later that day I described the experience to Augie. He clearly enjoyed the tale, and at one point asked a very simple question. [Read more…]

“I’m Sorry if I Offended You”

Although there are myriad other reasons to be aggravated with politicians and government leaders, perhaps one of the most annoying is how they apologize. First, they are unlikely to actually admit they did anything wrong—for instance, they don't say, "I'm sorry I said something really stupid." Instead, they proffer an equivocation like, "I'm sorry if what I said offended you."

You are sorry if what you said offended me?! So, calling me a <fill in the uncivil word or phrase here> is not itself actually offensive or wrong?! Instead, I just took it wrong?! [Read more…]

Three Strikes You’re In

Growing up in Canaan, New Hampshire without a whole bunch of pocket change, baseball was something that entertained my friends and me because it didn't take more than a ball and a glove to enjoy it. Well, it generally was better if there were at least two gloves. 🙂

I suppose just like cricket in other countries, watching baseball is an acquired taste. Many, perhaps most, people find it a bit slow and boring…whereas I can still remember, with a bunch of my buddies, closely listening to a game on a portable AM radio (in our tent made out of black 30-gallon trash bags) as the Red Sox and Yankees went into extra innings. It was the antithesis of boring to us. (Bad news, the Yankees won that game. Good news, as we left the tents to go sneak around town in the middle of the night, we discovered a glow-in-the-dark fungus exists in New England.)

So, do you enjoy baseball? Hate it? Can put up with it, but won't tune into it on television if there are other options? [Read more…]